"Ambitious implementation programme" essential to success of Levelling Up

Delivering the government's plan for more balanced economic growth also requires fundamental reforms to local transport funding.

Published: 2 Feb 2022

By: Rob Mallows

Tagged: ,

Leicester city centre

The government has today published its Levelling Up white paper setting out its programme to ensure economic opportunity is more evenly spread across the whole country. It includes invitations to nine areas to create new county-wide deals and negotiations over ‘trailblazing’ devolution expansions deals with Manchester and West Midlands mayoral combined authorities. The white paper sets out 12 levelling up missions to be achieved by 2030, including raising productivity in every area of the country, bringing local public transport standards closer to those in London, and delivering 5G broadband coverage for the majority of the population.

In response, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt said:

“We now have a clearer idea of what the government means by levelling up, and it is ambitious in its scope and aims. We need an equally ambitious implementation programme if we want to achieve tangible change in the space of eight years.

“Infrastructure such as local transport and digital connections has a key role to play in local regeneration alongside other policies like education and skills. The white paper recognises this cannot be delivered by Whitehall alone, and we welcome steps to broaden devolution to empower more local leaders to develop tailored infrastructure plans as part of their growth strategies.

“But this needs to be matched by urgent and fundamental reform of how local transport funding is allocated, with a shift from short term funding pots over which councils bid against each other, to long term devolved funding deals. While the white paper promises a plan to move towards this simplification, this needs to be turned into real change quickly, and new devolved arrangements need to be in place much sooner than 2030.

“Achieving an internationally competitive city in each region requires internationally comparable mass transit networks. Delivering this needs government to start work now on a pipeline of major transport projects for cities outside London.

“For our own part, the Commission will be examining further how public transport schemes can best work alongside other measures to alleviate congestion in cities, to support both local growth and levelling up.

Notes

In September 2021, the Commission published a major report on how infrastructure can support economic growth and quality of life in English towns. The central recommendation was a shift towards handing power to local areas to deliver their own infrastructure strategies with five-year devolved budgets, and a move away from competitive bidding for centrally controlled pots of funding. The 74 county councils and unitary authorities responsible for strategic transport planning should be resourced to develop long term infrastructure strategies for the towns in its area, supported by a pipeline of projects.

The Commission’s earlier recommendations on the approach for cities funding, from the first National Infrastructure Assessment (2018), can be read here.

‘Levelling up’ is one of the three key strategic themes which will frame the second National Infrastructure Assessment, to be published in the second half of 2023. More details of the projects being explored can be found here.

Share this article

<

Recent Articles

Commission to explore capability of local electricity grid to support renewables push
electricity substation

Commission to explore capability of local electricity grid to support renewables push

Ensuring that the network connecting homes and businesses to the electricity supply can cope with the demands of a fully electric-powered economy will be the focus of a new piece of work by the National Infrastructure Commission. The government has today (27 February) published the terms of reference for the study, which asks the Commission...

27 Feb 2024 By
We’re recruiting – Senior Policy Adviser (environment)
Floodplain near Wollaston

We’re recruiting – Senior Policy Adviser (environment)

We’re looking to recuit someone with a particular interest in water management to join our environment team and help develop policies that enables our infrastructure systems to better protect and enhance our natural environment and safeguard important natural resources in the face of climate change impacts. Based in our Leeds office, the successful candidate will...

23 Feb 2024 By
Letter to government on business models for net zero technologies

Letter to government on business models for net zero technologies

Commission Chair Sir John Armitt has written to government setting out the need to accelerate efforts to encourage private investment in the energy infrastructure pivotal to achieving net zero and energy security. In a letter to the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Sir John highlights the importance of...

23 Feb 2024 By

Evidence_Icon_Turquoise Created with Sketch.

Explore data used in the Commission's research, and gain insights from across UK infrastructure

Join our team of professionals supporting the Commission to provide evidence based and forward thinking advice on infrastructure strategy.